I first thought about cultural wedding traditions when I watched my uncle dance with my Abuela at his wedding for the mother-son dance. We’d just watched his new wife dance to a timeless waltz with her father and I expected much of the same. The next thing I knew, a lively torrent of Spanish singing and guitar came over the speakers and they danced to a traditional Mexican wedding song.

It was a fun nod to our family’s Mexican roots that I hadn’t even considered before. Up until that point, the farthest I’d thought about wedding traditions was the old saying something new, something borrowed, something new and something blue. It reminded me that like with many things, mainstream depictions of weddings are generally a standardized European perspective. We assume the bride always wears white and that there is an exchange of vows and rings when for many cultures, there is more to it than that. Ever since my uncle’s wedding, I’ve imagined small details about my wedding, like the beach backdrop and the fact that my best friend would make my wedding cake. I knew I was dancing to a Mexican song for my father-daughter dance.

Growing up, I was often introduced to family traditions through food and music. My Abuela would cook with orange spices and colorful peppers too hot for me to eat. I would sit back in my aunt’s car and listen to raspy Spanish music and the thrum of a guitar. These were my traditions growing up.

Now I incorporate the same spices and recipes into my own cooking at home, although with much less heat than her. As a biracial woman, I wasn’t always naturally surrounded by Latinx culture but found it comforting when I sought it out. I make sure to have copies of certain songs that my dad blasted on his stereo when I was little. I painted my kitchen a bright orange because it reminded me of the warm and bold colors often seen in Mexican art and architecture. It’s important to me to incorporate traditions from both sides of my family into my life, and that includes my wedding.

Some of the easiest ways to discreetly include tradition are the food, the music and the colors you incorporate into your wedding. I was excited to find that our wedding caterer has empanadas, a traditional Latinx pastry that can be filled with just about anything as an hors d’oeuvre option. These pastries were one of the first family dishes I learned from my Abuela. As for music, the growing common practice of utilizing an iPod playlist for your wedding music means you can play any song as you walk down the aisle or dance to your first song, whether it has special meaning to just the couple getting married or an older tradition.

What I enjoy about traditions is that you can keep and cherish the ones you love and leave the ones that might not agree with you. For example, I don’t intend to have a spiritual sponsor as is the tradition in Mexico and other Latin American countries. My uncle chose not to have one either. My Irish fiancée doesn’t wear a Claddagh engagement ring but she will have sprigs of lavender in her bouquet. She’s the kind of person who might try and convince someone to gift her with a black cat, which is said in Ireland to bring good luck.

Weddings are a wonderful way to share in the traditions of the couple that you might have otherwise not known about. In certain Asian countries, couples choose their wedding day based on the stars. It is a tradition at Jewish weddings to be married under a Chuppah to represent the new home they are building. There are hundreds of different traditions that you can incorporate into your big day that honor both of your families’ traditions, whether they come from your families of origin or a chosen family.

As an LGBTQ+ couple, my fiancée and I both agree that we want to incorporate some of the growing traditions in the queer community as well. Our queer identities are important to both of us and deserve to be celebrated just as much as our individual and cultural traditions.

We’ll both have engagement rings and wedding bands. She’s taking my last name. Many LGBTQ+ couples often opt out of the gendered bridesmaid and groomsmen rules, and our wedding party has only one man in it and we have dubbed him simply, “The man of sexiness.” We’re only having one party to celebrate with our friends instead of the two separate heteronormative bachelor/bachelorette parties. For so long, LGBTQ+ couples didn’t have the ability to think about who they wanted to walk them down the aisle or what color they wanted their pantsuit or dress to be. It’s nice to see traditions being talked about in this community too.

There are so many ways to mix and match religious, personal and cultural traditions into one’s wedding day. The important thing is to choose what’s important to you and your partner and what will fill the day with more love. For me, that is having all our friends and family join us at the beach. It is having my mother walk me down the aisle and it is dancing with my father to something a little more fast-paced than a waltz.


Macey LavoieMacey Lavoie is a Boston-based writer. She has been featured in Ravishly, HelloGiggles, Bustle and more. She is owned by two cats and works at a place where people take their robots for walks. When she is not jotting down writing ideas in her notebook, she is eating sushi and catching up on her never-ending TBR pile.

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